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Updating the fate of bike islands and cigarette butt receptacles

September 30, 2016
Going, going, gone!. The damaged cigarette butt receptacle September 21 and today.

Going, going, gone. Damaged butt receptacle on September 21 and today.

As of this morning (Soptember 30) someone—likely the City of Vancouver—has completely removed the cigarette butt receptacle, installed some eleven weeks earlier in August, at the 99 B-Line bus stop on the south side of the 1400 block of West Broadway.

For over a week now, this receptacle (part of an expanded city-run cigarette butt collection program which began downtown in 2013) has sat vandalized and useless—its top canister portion missing and presumed kicked off.

Well, for the time being, people on West Broadway Avenue will have one less cigarette butt receptacle to kick around. Not only has the the surviving base of the receptacle been unbolted from the sidewalk and taken away but the bolt holes themselves have been plastered over with concrete.

This is not to say that a new cigarette butt receptacle won’t take the place of the one just removed but it seems more likely to me that any replacement will be of the variety that straps to either a light or sign pole (these are much harder to vandalize).

If at first you can’t fix a bike island, try try again

Columbia St. bike island with new signage set in fresh concrete.

Columbia St. bike island two days ago, with new signage set in fresh concrete.

Speaking of sign poles, the bike island at Columbia Street, on the south side of West Broadway Avenue, has had its sign pole (well, bollard actually) and signage restored after the lot was flattened some two weeks ago, presumably by a large commercial truck.

As of two days ago (September 28) a new yellow-painted, heavy steel bollard, bearing a “No entry except bicycles” sign had been set in the middle of the island in a spot of freshly-poured concrete.

On September 20th I tweeted how the damaged Columbia Street Bike island had received its second visit from a city repair crew (an earlier visit having dropped orange safety cones).

I watched as the two workers pulled up in a city pickup truck loaded with skinny poles and fittings. Together they were able to straighten a leaning curbside pole but the sight of the flattened,wide-diameter steel bollard set directly into the concrete of the bike island stopped them cold.

They were clearly only equipped to replace a damaged small-diameter steel or PVC sign pole bolt-mounted in an steel collar inset in the concrete of the island.

It was a subsequent crew of city workers therefore that effected the repair that I saw on September 28. This repair clearly involved first removing the existing crushed steel bollard—likely with a jack-hammer and perhaps also employing a hydraulic saw. Then a new steel bollard was positioned in the resulting hole and set in freshly-poured concrete.

Now we just wait for the next large truck to run into the bollard, so that city workers can repeat the above repair process.

How to nickel and dime your way to spending real tax dollars

It seems eminently more sensible and cost-effective (to me, at least) to mount bike island signage on impact-resistant spring-mounted sign poles or vehicle-proof spring-mounted bollards. The latter is used on the west side of the intersection of the streets Main and Union—these bollards have endured years of being run over by emergency vehicles.

However, it has been argued to me, that if drivers knew that they could safely drive over the sign poles and bollards then they would. in order to illegally cross the bike islands.

But of course, this is a spurious argument; drivers already can and do illegally drive over the bike islands all the time (you didn’t know?). Unfortunately, sooner-or-later, one of these scofflaws clips the signage—bending the sheet steel “No Entry” signs and occasionally bending or breaking the sign poles themselves.

A large truck bearing window sections opts to clip the trees rather than the newly refurbished bike island.

A large truck bearing window sections opts to clip the trees rather than the newly refurbished bike island.

In  the context of one bike island, I can understand how my refrain about repair expenses probably sounds silly. After all, how much could it possibly cost for the city to use three different work crews and jackhammers and concrete just to repair the signage on one little bike island?

And it’s true that the three bike islands I pay attention to—at Alberta, Columbia and Manitoba Street—have only needed to have signage repaired at least five time in three years.

I realize that we’re hardly talking big money here but how does it scale up citywide? How many identically signed bike islands are there in Vancouver and what is the overall repair frequency?

I do not know the answer but I should try to find out. I cannot believe that only three bike islands in the city get regularly damaged.

You never know, the paltry hundreds or thousands of dollars spent repairing broken signage on each individual bike island might actually add up to costing Vancouverites some real money. Click the images to enlarge them.

  1. Oilybird permalink

    Have you considered that sometimes they may know which car did it (CCTV can be very useful as can ICBC) and therefore the cost may just be sent back to the owner?


    • This is certainly a possibility but a reduced one given the position of the island—it is overlooked, for the most part, by only a few residential homes. The outfitter co-op MEC, in the 100 block of West Broadway Avenue, has an employee entrance on Columbia that overlooks the island but I am not aware (as I needn’t be) if MEC has a camera on the west side of their building.

      There is construction in the 200 block, which probably accounts for the destruction of the Columbia island signage.


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